National Council for the Training of Journalists to start teaching PR

Public relations is set to be added to the range of skills taught by the the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

One former national newspaper reporter who now works in PR told the NCTJ Journalism Training Conference that journalists should learn the skills of both industries.

Adam Thomspon, who used to write for the Express and Star, said: "We deal with each other every day – and we are a lot more similar than you think."

However, a lecturer from the Centre for Journalism at the University of Kent questioned if the ethical standards taught in NCTJ accredited courses would conflict with the skills involved in PR.

Rob Bailey said: "It sounds like the National Council for the Training of churnalists to me.”

Alun Thorne, a former editor of the Coventry Telegraph, who left for a PR job two years ago, challenged this.

He said: "I have never lied for a client. I have spun like hell, but I have never lied. The two jobs were not the same, but it made sense for a journalism training course to include the opportunity to understand the PR industry.”

The new module, which was being debated by the conference, will be optional.

Rhea Alton, who runs Shrewsbury-basedf J&PR, said she wouldn’t hire anyone without journalistic training.

Speaking about training clients to deal with questions from journalists, she backed up the idea that PR skills would not go against the ethical standards taught on journalism courses.

She said: "We tell them honesty is the best policy."

Kim Fletcher, chairman of the NCTJ and a former Fleet Street executive, told the conference how he views journalists since moving into PR. Fletcher is a director of PR company Brunswick.

He said: "I am surprised that the press don't ask tougher questions. And I'm disappointed by that."

The NCTJ accredits 82 journalism courses at various colleges and universities around the country, as well as running its own diplomas. 

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